rights of a reader 2b

You can’t make someone read. Just like you can’t make them fall in love, or dream.

This is Daniel Pennac’s passionate defense of reading for pleasure, and one in which I have decided to take refuge in right at the onset of this new reading year.  I find his reminder to readers of their rights to read anything, anywhere, at any time, as long as they are enjoying themselves, to be rather timely in helping me decide to stop reading Emma (in fact, I had already stopped a couple of weeks ago) and to put it back onto the shelves (without feeling guilty) until I find it calling again. My initial plans to read it in conjunction with its 200th anniversary seems to have hit a snag and instead of struggling to overcome it, I have opted to exercise my “right to not finish a book”. For now, at least. I certainly want to come back to it someday, just not now.

rights of a reader 1a

I got this copy from the recent book sales, but it was somehow misplaced and I didn’t even realize it was missing when I shared the photos of the book hauls in my previous year end  post until it re-surfaced again sometime last week. Just when I was debating on what to do with Emma. A bookish godsend, I guess. 🙂

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10 thoughts on “The Rights of A Reader

  1. The only one of these that I was slow to adopt was the one about not finishing a book. I used to plod on with gritted teeth but a few years ago realised how stupid I was. Reading is for pleasure and if the book was giving me pain instead I was missing the point.

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  2. I had not seen this book before. How wonderful it is. I read almost all of Emma than I heard several people discuss the ending and that was the end of Emma. I read m ost of it, she drove me nuts and I was glad to put it back on my shelf though overall I did enjoy the book.

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    1. It is a lovely book, isn’t it? The Quentin Blake illustrations are a delight too. Glad I am not the only one to ‘ditch’ Emma before the end. :p It is reassuring though, to know that you did enjoy it overall. 🙂

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  3. You list this just in time when I was (once again) remembering how I constantly violated my sister’s right ‘to not read’.. 🙂 I always thought that everybody should love to read and that the reason why they don’t has something to do with assigned reading for school destroying their will.. So, I am always telling people that reading doesn’t mean reading Dostoevsky or Kafka.. one can read about any thing that one is interested in.. The point is to discover what your interests are and find the right book! 🙂

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  4. I think sometimes it’s even easier to forget that others have the right ‘to not read’ too, just as we do. Especially when we are so convinced that our intentions are for their good and to enrich & help, rather than to inflict stress or distress. And it is so very frustrating when they don’t see it as such. I have just been contending with this issue recently with a close friend whom I have been encouraging (to the point of ‘pushing’ too hard, maybe) to read God’s word (which is uplifting and gives hope to the spirit) in order to counter her negative and even suicidal thoughts. She has been on medication for depression for the last two years plus. These past couple of years have been my first hand experience with the destructive and devastating nature of the condition (a large part of the devastation is actually caused by the medication’s adverse side effects, unfortunately), and it is truly ugly.

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